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Nocturnal Animals List: 114 Night-Loving Animals

Most living things can be categorized as either nocturnal or diurnal.

  • Diurnal creatures are active during the day and sleep at night, like humans.
  • Nocturnal creatures are the opposite – they sleep all day and are active at night.
Nocturnal Animals List

Nocturnal Animals List: 114

I’m working to build a complete list of nocturnal animals. Please let me know in the comments which ones I’ve missed. Following the list are details on 26 of my favorite nocturnal animals.

  1. Aardvark
  2. Aye-aye
  3. African elephant*
  4. American black bear
  5. Badger
  6. Ball Python
  7. Bandicoot
  8. Bat
  9. Bat-eared fox
  10. Beaver
  11. Bilby
  12. Binturong
  13. Black rhinoceros
  14. Black rat
  15. Black-footed cat
  16. Bobcat
  17. Brown rat
  18. Bushbaby (Galago)
  19. Bush rat
  20. Capybara*
  21. Caracal
  22. Cat*
  23. Catfish
  24. Cheetah
  25. Chinchilla
  26. Civet
  27. Cockroach
  28. Cougar
  29. Coyote
  30. Cricket
  31. Cacomistle
  32. Cyprus spiny mouse
  33. Dingo
  34. Dog (Can be active day or night)
  35. Dwarf crocodile
  36. Eastern woolly lemur
  37. Firefly
  38. Flying squirrel
  39. Gecko
  40. Genet
  41. Gerbil* (Some are diurnal)
  42. Giraffe*
  43. Gray wolf
  44. Great grey slug
  45. Great white shark*
  46. Hamster
  47. Hedgehog
  48. Hermit crab
  49. Hippopotamus
  50. Honey badger
  51. Hyena
  52. Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth
  53. Iranian jerboa
  54. Jaguar*
  55. Kangaroo*
  56. Kiwi
  57. Koala*
  58. Kinkajou
  59. Kit fox*
  60. Leopard
  61. Leopard Gecko
  62. Lion*
  63. Loris (Slender and Slow species)
  64. Lynx
  65. Margay
  66. Mink*
  67. Mole
  68. Mouse
  69. Nightingale
  70. Nightjar
  71. Nine-banded armadillo
  72. Octodon (But not the diurnal degus)
  73. Oncilla
  74. Ocelot
  75. Opossum
  76. Orca*
  77. Otter
  78. Owl
  79. Owl monkey
  80. Pacarana
  81. Panamanian night monkey
  82. Pangolin
  83. Platypus
  84. Paradoxical frog
  85. Polar bear
  86. Porcupine
  87. Possum
  88. Potoo
  89. Puma
  90. Python regius
  91. Quoll
  92. Rabbit rat
  93. Raccoon
  94. Red-eyed tree frog
  95. Red fox
  96. Ringtail
  97. Scorpion
  98. Skink
  99. Skunk
  100. Spectacled bear
  101. Sportive lemur
  102. Sugar glider
  103. Tapeti
  104. Tarantula
  105. Tarsier
  106. Tasmanian devil
  107. Tiger (Most subspecies)
  108. Onychophora
  109. Western woolly lemur
  110. Whip-poor-will
  111. White-faced storm petrel (When raising chicks)
  112. White-tailed deer*
  113. Wild boar
  114. Wombat

* Crepuscular (or some species in the category are) In some cases, they are thought to be somewhat crepuscular, but more research is needed.

What is Crepuscular? Relating to twilight. In zoology, crepuscular refers to animals active in twilight (dawn or dusk).

Nocturnal Animal Details: 26 Types

Here are details on some of the more notable nocturnal animals.

6 Nocturnal Mammals

There are a lot of nocturnal animals out there; let’s look at a few.

1. Bats

Not all bats are nocturnal, but these mammals are made to live in the dark.

They use echolocation to locate insects around them and hunt. They emit high-pitched sounds that we can’t hear at a rate of 10-20 beeps per second and listen to the echoes. They feast primarily on mosquitos, and they often eat their body weight in bugs every night.

They’re also the only mammals that fly. And they’re fast! Depending on the species, they can typically fly at speeds of 60 mph to 100 mph.

Learn more about Honduran white bats.

Honduran white bat
Honduran white bat

2. Opossums

You probably won’t run into an opossum during the day, but you may hear them scurrying around your yard at night. These nocturnal creatures sleep during the day and hunt for food at night.

They don’t do a full hibernation, but they do spend more time in their burrows during the winter, storing up fat to stay warm.

Opossums typically eat whatever they find in the trash, and they’re omnivores, so they’ll eat just about anything. Depending on where they are, they’re known to eat nuts, grass, fruit, bugs, small rodents, birds, snakes, worms, roadkill, or garbage.

opossum marsupial united states
An opossum from the United States is a marsupial with a pouch

Learn more about animals with pouches.

3. Raccoons

Raccoons have a reputation for rifling through backyard trash cans at night, which is common for nocturnal critters. Like opossums, raccoons hunt for food at night and are omnivores who will eat just about anything they can get their paws on.

They hunt for food at night because most of their main predators are asleep, so they don’t have quite as much to worry about. They’ll also find less competition on their hunt for food.

Did you know that raccoons hibernate? See more in our guide: 25 Animals that Hibernate in Winter.

4. Hedgehogs

These cute little pokey guys like to hide away and sleep in shaded garden areas during the day; then, they wake up in the evenings to explore when it’s safer.

Hedgehogs primarily eat bugs and vegetation in the wild.

5. Cats

So cats aren’t technically nocturnal, though many people assume they are. They’re actually crepuscular, which means they’re most active at dusk and dawn.

They’re often awake during hours that we would normally sleep, which leads many cat owners to believe their pets are nocturnal.

Cats typically nap 12 to 15 hours daily, though they’re very alert during their naps.

More reading: Animals that Eat Grass

6. Aardvarks

Aardvarks burrow into the ground during the day to escape the hot African sun.

They use their claws to dig holes up to two feet deep, and they sleep there until the sun goes down, and they can go catch bugs with their long tongues.

5 Nocturnal Reptiles

1. Ball Python

One thing to consider when buying a ball python is that it’ll likely be asleep while you’re awake. During the day, you’re more likely to find them curled up asleep in the darkest part of their enclosure they can find.

Ball pythons have pretty bad eyesight because their eyes are susceptible to UV lighting. That’s why they prefer to hunt in the dark – that, and the fact that most of their prey is likely asleep and easier to catch.

2. Skink

Not all skinks are nocturnal. Some species are diurnal, while others are nocturnal. The species found in Central America and South America are often seen foraging around for food during the day.

But the nocturnal species, Egernia and Eremiascincus, hide away in dark cracks and crevices during the day. If there’s one on your property, you’ll most likely find it hidden away in the garden, garage, attic, or basement during the day. 

3. Geckos

As with the skinks, not all geckos are nocturnal, though most gecko species are. They are a common pet, but it’s worth noting that your little lizard friend probably won’t be awake much at the same time as you. They sleep up to 12 hours a day!

Many types of geckos don’t have eyelids, so their eyes don’t always look closed when sleeping.

There used to be a gecko that lived on our patio in Ecuador. Every night, it would come out and hunt insects in the light of our kitchen.

4. Boa Constrictors

Boa constrictors are nocturnal, so they’re not active during the day, but they don’t like to be cold so they may lay out and bask in the sun during the day if it gets too cold at night.

Like the ball pythons, boa constrictors can hunt at night while their prey is sleeping and unsuspecting.

5. Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnakes typically live in the desert, so they often prefer to be active at night when it’s not so hot. This also allows them to avoid their predators and catch their prey off-guard.

3 Nocturnal Amphibians

1. Green Tree Frog

Green tree frogs are more active at night, largely because the humidity is higher at nighttime. Hunting for food in the dark also helps them to avoid predators.

Tree frogs have incredible night vision and can even see spectrums of light that humans can’t see with the naked eye, which allows them to see color at night.

Learn more about animals that live in trees.

2. Pacman Frog

These round little frogs with their big, wide mouths look a lot like Pacman, hence their name. And like Pacman on his black board, they thrive in the darkness. They sit quietly and go unnoticed by prey until it’s too late – they leap forward with their large mouths and swallow their prey whole.

Like tree frogs, the pacman frog thrives in a humid environment. If it’s too dry, they’ll dig a little hole and hide in the soil until the air gets some moisture.

3. Sirens

Sirens are a weird species. They are long and slender like snakes but have two tiny front legs. They’re technically considered a type of salamander.

These unique little critters live in slow-moving shallow water and hide under weeds and vegetation during the day. When they come out at night, they eat invertebrates and plants.

4 Nocturnal Birds

Interested in just birds? See my list of nocturnal birds.

1. Owls

Owls are one of the more commonly known nocturnal animals. With their giant eyes and stellar hearing, they can track prey and swoop quietly to grab them. They typically sleep during the day. 

2. Kiwis

These funny little New Zealand natives are nocturnal. They’re shy and not often seen in the wild.

Kiwis have long, skinny beaks that allow them to dig into the soil for invertebrates. Their nocturnal nature is helpful for this, as the bugs they like to munch on typically move closer to the surface overnight. This also helps protect them from predators.

Kiwis have an exceptional sense of smell.

3. Nightingales

Nightingales are pretty little brown birds that got their name because they belt out their loud songs overnight.

But they don’t typically sing year-round; the males sing during the breeding season of late spring and early summer to attract mates.

4. Nightjar

These birds were also named after the noises they make after the sun goes down – the night jar is described as making a jarring noise.

They are medium-sized birds who use the natural coloring of their feathers to hide during the day before going out at night.

4 Nocturnal Fish

1. Catfish

They aren’t all night-dwellers, but some species of catfish are nocturnal.

This isn’t the only thing that varies by catfish breed – some like stagnant water, while others prefer a current. Some catfish like saltwater, while others like freshwater.

2. Moray Eels

These eels have poor eyesight, so they do well at night. They have large nostrils that provide a stellar sense of smell, which helps them navigate around.

Moray eels are very colorful and smooth, with fins like a fish. They also have two jaws full of scary-looking teeth to help them attack their prey.

3. Snappers

Most snappers are nocturnal, so fishermen typically target them on night fishing trips. They like to hide during the day, so you’ll often find them near reefs or shipwrecks.

They come out at night and are named after their rows of sharp teeth that they can snap shut quickly when hunting or feeling threatened. 

4. Octopus

Octopus are primarily nocturnal, though some of the ones kept in captivity at aquariums will wake up and be active during feeding time.

But in the wild, they hide away and camouflage themselves during the day to avoid predators. Octopuses are incredibly smart and flexible, so they can fit into just about any space to avoid capture.

4 Nocturnal Insects, Arachnids, and Mollusks

1. Cockroaches

Nobody wants a cockroach in their house, but there’s a good chance you won’t even know one is wandering around there.

Cockroaches tend to come out at night to hunt for food, and they find their way inside through any cracks or holes in the walls or under the doors. They’ll fit through openings you didn’t even know existed and hide in dark crevices until nightfall.

2. Crickets

When a cricket gets inside, it almost feels personal – they seem to only play their song when you’re trying to sleep.

Crickets are nocturnal, so they’re more active at night. And they like to hide in the dark, which makes them very hard to catch.

3. Fireflies

Fireflies are nocturnal, and it’s a good thing too! We wouldn’t be able to appreciate their captivating glow if they slept all night. Their light is caused by a chemical reaction in their lower abdomen that produces bioluminescence.

Instead, they hide away and sleep during the day and delight families with their twinkling light show at night. Fireflies’ glow is used for mating and hunting.

4. Scorpions

If you live in the desert, you’ve probably learned to avoid scorpions and their stingers. But luckily, they’re mostly nocturnal and tend to hide away in dark cracks or crevices during the day.

Just keep an eye out if you’re walking around at night since that’s when they typically emerge to hunt for food.

nocturnal animals
Bushbaby in a tree at night, one the cutest nocturnal animals on the list

4 Facts About Nocturnal Animals

  1. About 65 percent of the world’s mammal population is nocturnal.
  2. Owls are great nighttime hunters. They have super-strong night vision and exceptional hearing that allows them to hunt even the tiniest of prey in the dark of the night.
  3. But not all nocturnal animals have good night vision, some rely on other heightened smells to get around at night, like smell or hearing or taste.
  4. Bats use echolocation to hunt and navigate at night. They make high-pitched sounds that we can’t even hear, and they listen for echoes from the things around them.

Your Turn

What is your favorite nocturnal animal? Did I miss one? Let me know in the comments so I can add it!